Early in his ministry Jesus made a visit to his home town of Nazareth. It should have been a story of home-town boy makes good. Jesus’ had actually started his public ministry in Capernaum, and news about the authority of his teaching and the power of his healing spread quickly throughout the region. Now he had come “home”, and the local congregation was eager to see for themselves what “Joe and Mary’s kid” might do for them. This was their chance to affirm Jesus and add their voices to the chorus of those who were singing his praise.
But Jesus was not looking for affirmation, or notoriety, or their acceptance. He was there to proclaim God’s kingdom, and announce that he himself embodied the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. In the short time it took him to read and interpret a passage from the prophet Isaiah, the congregation made the journey from expectant to incredulous to indignant to hostile. For They wanted to stone him. And then Jesus passed through the midst of their hostility and left that place.
Jesus’ message is that the good news free, neither chained exclusively to ancient scripture, nor exiled in perpetuity to some future, unmet promise. The good news Jesus is a present reality, meant for everybody, and on the move. It cannot be domesticated by any congregation or people; those who try are often left with a glimpse of Jesus’ back as strides purposefully onward.